LOS ANGELES BARBERSHOPS HELP IMPROVE BLACK MEN’S HEALTH
This is a great story about great health and positive human interaction. Last week, the New England Journal of Medicine announced a great finding of a two-year study in Los Angeles of 50 African American owned and run barbershops. It just so happens that non-Hispanic black men saw their blood pressure drop. Why? From being clients at these barber shops!
STUDY OF 50 BARBERSHOPS AIMED AT IMPROVING HEALTH OF BLACK MEN WITH HYPERTENSION
Researchers organized the study and recruited 50 plus of these barbershops. The experiment happened over a two year period. The experiment was randomized. All of the barbers who chose to take part received training in taking their participating clients’ blood pressure. If you don’t already know how, it’s pretty straightforward once you do. These barbers also suggested that clients with hypertension to go meet with their doctors for a check-up. They talked to them about healthier diets and to become more physically active. So much for just a trim!
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PHARMACISTS EMBEDDED WITH 28 BARBERSHOPS TO LOWER CLIENTS’ BLOOD PRESSURE
Doesn’t that sound like a personal health coach? But that was normal at these barbershops. But 28 of these barbershops had an extra nudge to give. They helped prompt their customers to regularly meet with a specially trained pharmacist. That pharmacist would then prescribe, and adjust as necessary, the clients’ blood pressure medication over a half-year period. Obviously, these pharmacists worked together with physicians to confirm drug safety, insurance coverage, etc.
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BARBERSHOPS HOSTED BLOOD PRESSURE CHECKUPS
But these barbershops often also were the meeting place for these pharmacists and the clients for their check-ups! They hosted posters advertising previous clients who already benefited from the study. They called it the “Cut Your Pressure Too: The LA Barbershop Blood Pressure Study.” This is definitely a new way to promote health. And to deliver healthcare! But the proof was in the numbers.
ALL CLIENTS SAW IMPROVED BLOOD PRESSURE, TWO THIRDS ALMOST IDEAL
So here are the numbers. 318 African American men aged 35-79 with high blood pressure participated in the study from 2015-2017. On average, all 318 men saw a drop in their blood pressure after 6 months. But clients at the 28 pharmacist-teamed barbershops saw their blood pressure drop almost three times more than the others. Even more, two thirds of the pharmacist barbershop clients had their overall blood pressure drop to almost the almost ideal range of 120/70 mm hg. That is literally saving lives.
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So take note of this study. It shows that there are new and viable ways to help people’s health by delivering service and advice in non-traditional settings. This opens the door to a host of questions about the remarkable range of human groups there are to be reached. This study showed a localized success with non-Hispanic African American men. What might work for Caucasian steel workers in the rustbelt? Or Latin-American women of Central American heritage? We’re sure to find out if the will to improve everyone’s health is there. What about spas? How about a bowling alley? Even the dude could get advice there…..